September 2011: Komissar Rex, “Der Puppenmorder”
A first stop for any new fan of Christoph Waltz, the episode of Komissar Rex, “Der Puppenmorder”, is a silly, clever and creepy treat. The premise of Komissar Rex is that Rex is a German Shepherd crime dog and the star of the show. The three cops that form his K-9 unit team play second fiddle to this intrepid dog who is nearly human and has more personality than the three of them put together. The theme song is right out of the 1980s and the production values remind me of 1990s CBS shows (think Walker, Texas Ranger).
Having laid down that framework, it was regarded at the time that this particular episode was a “special” (so I was told by someone), and so they brought in a better actor to play the protagonist. Enter Christoph Waltz, starring as Martin Wolfe, proprietor of a doll shop in Vienna. His parents owned the shop and he inherited it. Looking like he came from a dolls village himself, with reddish hair and green velvet suit, Martin is lecherous, creepy, pervy, and very tongue in cheek. From a retrospective point of view, it’s hard to take the man who made Hans Landa come to life seriously in this role as the owner of a doll shop that is so emasculated, that the character requires an elaborate setup of luring women to his back room, getting them to put on a dolls’ dress, applying their makeup precisely like a doll, and then photographing them – while cajoling them to reveal more and more skin in order to satisfy his sexual urges. One wonders, in the era of “blow up dolls” and “real dolls” why Martin didn’t buy himself an anatomically correct companion if that is in fact what turned him on. But, I digress.
Obviously the women he lures are doll lovers, mostly married, and totally uninterested in the effeminate, emasculated owner of a dolly shop. They indulge him in the game of dress up, but when he tries to get them to strip, they turn cold and refuse him. This enrages Martin, and he utters, “You are a doll. Dolls have no will of their own,” before barely overpowering and strangling the ladies. One assumes that he photographs them, has his wicked way, then dumps them in the Vienna Woods which is where Rex and Company stumble upon the corpse.
After chasing their tails and sniffing out and some tenuous links to past crimes, the Dog Squad picks up the scent and comes barking. They are given a bone by Martin’s bookkeeper, an elderly lady who works for him and regards him like a son to her. Martin is already gone, though, as he is trying to silence the little girl next door from yapping to the police about him by luring her with a coveted doll from his shop before pushing her off of some scaffolding in an “accident”.
Does Martin manage to escape with his dolls? Does Rex dig up some clues in his shop? Does the little girl next door land on all four feet? You’ll just have to watch it on Youtube to find out.
Enjoy, and don’t take it too seriously. It won’t win any awards, but it certainly has won a place in our hearts.